When I was trying to decide what to write about this week, Kyle suggested, “How about the butter?” He was referring to some homemade butter I knocked out the other day to go alongside a loaf of rye bread I had baked. My initial thought was, “Who cares about butter, it’s so easy” – and I got a kick out of my own reaction because if you had asked me to make bread and butter ten years ago I would have laughed all the way to the grocery store to buy those two readily-available pre-made items.
(Butter, by the way, IS really easy. You pour a carton of heavy cream into a Kitchen Aid, add a little salt – or rosemary or another spice or nothing – and let the mixer run until the cream turns to a chunky butter consistency. Squeeze the butter chunks together into a little pat, and rinse it under water until the water runs clear. Done.)
I didn’t learn to cook until after my oldest son was born. I grew up with a mother who was (is) a great cook and then lived with my college roommate/best friend who was (is) also a great cook, and instead of following them around the kitchen and learning their ways, I chose to eat their food and move on with my life. This plan worked all well and good until I got my own apartment back in Grand Forks and realized that I had no way to feed myself without the words “takeout” or “delivery” involved.
For the next several years, I fumbled my way around the kitchen like a billygoat in rollerskates. I don’t use the word “literally” casually, and so believe me when I say I literally have hundreds of stories like this one:
I went through a little phase where I decided to cook everything in a crockpot. Somehow I came across a recipe for a banana pepper pot roast – Mississippi Pot Roast, apparently – and decided to toss it together for a romantic southern dinner with my soon-to-be-husband. Here is what I put in the crock pot: one roast, and two jars of banana peppers. Did I quickly brown the roast on all four sides before putting it in the pot? No. Did I think, “Maybe I should add some butter or onions or anything else instead of just pepper juice and peppers?” No. Did I leave that sucker on high for ten hours? Yes. We came home to a “roast” the size of a baked potato that was so dry and SPICY that my sweet Kyle, who quietly choked down a lot of disgusting meals over the years, threw it away and insisted we go out to dinner.
I finally learned how to cook from a meal delivery service called Blue Apron. I got a six-month subscription as a (great) baby shower gift. Through its very simple visual steps and pre-portioned ingredients, I learned the science of cooking meat, and the importance of adding spices, and the purpose of crème fraiche. And now I can make edible meals like a normal person. Victory.
Blue Apron doesn’t teach you how to bake, however – and so up until recently I every dessert I put on the table came from a box, a tube, Dairy Queen, or the bakery section of the grocery store. This is, until I discovered a TV show called “The Great British Bake Off.”
I’m not a big cooking show person because I don’t like seeing food I can’t eat, but “The Great British Bake Off” hit a lot of high notes for me: adorable people with accents, words like “sponge” and “jumper” instead of “cake” and “sweater,” and carbohydrates with other foods shoved in the middle. After watching hours upon hours of flour being thrown around the tent, I felt confident that I could put together a loaf of bread that wouldn’t taste like an overcooked banana pepper pot roast.
My friend, Nathan, has a not-a-food-blog food blog on which he posts many of his mother’s recipes. I am happy to say I know his mother, Meg, and her food well; she did the bulk of the baking (and I did the bulk of the eating) at our shared synagogue. I knew her recipes would be both delicious and pragmatic, and so I dug around on whatever Nathan’s blog is supposed to be (travel?) until I found Meg’s Casserole Batter Rye Bread – the recipe for which can be found here.
The photo above is my resulting delicious and pragmatic rye bread. Also, I received several emails after the warm Thanksgiving weather inquiring as to the state of Kyle’s rink, and so I tried to get the rink in the background so that you can see that he managed to keep it frozen through sheer force of will. Also victory.
Speaking of good stuff, this week’s news has a pretty impressive tip, Closet 701, and Lyd’s Kids. Read on.
West Fargo teacher Holly Strand-Rysgaard raised $600 through donations in order to give a local waitress/para-professional a one-in-a-lifetime tip. (KX Net)
Fargo Librarian Lydia Faulkner has collected and given out thousands of books to children across the community through her organization, Lyd’s Kids. (KVRR)
The Jamestown Shriners reportedly spent six days setting up an amazing display of lights for the community to enjoy. (Facebook)
If you live in Minot, the ND Fraternal Order of Police are looking for gifts to “Stuff-a-Squad” for their annual toy drive. (KFYR TV)
Dickinson neighbors are helping one another with free diapers, cooking equipment, food, pet supplies, and more via a local Facebook Group. (Dickinson Press)
Minot’s Roxi Mathis has published her second book, “Crescent Moon Cat,” about a cat who eats so much that he floats into the universe. (Minot Daily News)
Grand Forks’ Paul Zettler has been named the 2020 Air Force Association Chapter Teacher of the Year for his work in cyber security and the Girls Go CyberStart competition. (Grand Forks Herald)
Bismarck’s Heavens Helpers Soup Café has created a boutique to give out free clothes, bedding, and personal care items to anyone who needs them. (KFYR TV)